The Biggest Weekend of Horse Racing: Picking a Kentucky Derby Winner
This is the King of Sports, and the Sport of Kings.
The Kentucky Derby, one of the world’s greatest sport spectacles has finally arrived. Add to that the opening of racing season at tracks around the country, including Fort Erie Race Track. Does it get any better for horse racing fans?
I heard there were other sports going on, but not too sure. Rumours about hockey, basketball and baseball are running rampant, but I’m guessing that’s all they are – just rumors.
This weekend is all about horse racing; the GREATEST two minutes in sports!
Entry day for Sunday at good ole Fort Erie is Thursday and it will be time to start handicapping and planning for this yearly event. The track will be giving away buttons, provide memories to last a lifetime, and they might even be giving away money to some lucky gamblers at the mutuels! For more information, please visit the track’s website for this weekend’s season kick-off - http://www.forterieracing.com/events/2012-events-and-promotions/memorabilia-day/
With opening day/weekend, there will be many angles to use when coming up with your picks. You will occasionally see horses who run very well when fresh. Often times the first race of the year for a horse is its best effort, as they appreciate the abbreviated distance. Four and a half furlongs is a specialty race, so keep your eye out for those horses who have previous wins at this distance.
You may also find an edge in a horse or two coming from the South, who have experienced winter racing and are in mid-season form and fitness. It’s been very common for horses shipping from Tampa Bay Downs to have the edge on locally spring-trained athletes. The Tampa Bay track surface just seems to force horses to develop a high level of endurance needed to compete there, and as a result they are often seen winning at high percentages early in Fort Erie’s meets year after year.
The horses that ran at Woodbine early already have a “tightener” in them, meaning they have a race under their belt already this season, and are looking to improve on their first runs. These horses are often in over their heads (against tougher competition than they are actually worth) and are competing in order to get that first race in, thereby improving conditioning to premium levels for Fort Erie.
Other thoughts that have to be acknowledged when handicapping opening weekend are trainers that have good stats coming off of a layoff. The art of training a horse is not simple; it takes a lot of time to build up a horse’s endurance and is far from a simple process. Some trainers have the knack for winning the first time off the shelf, and others like to use that tightener, which has them ready to run a big second start. These stats are listed in the daily racing form and are very pertinent stats while handicapping opening weekend.
Now the Kentucky Derby, if you can handicap this race to a tee, you can be in for some large return. Quite possibly the most competitive field in my time, this race consists of all the top three-year-olds around and it seems like every big trainer thinks their horse is the one. We’ve gone week-to-week, race-to-race, and it’s hard to even pick a horse assured a top four finish. I’m sticking to my gut here though, thinking Rousing Sermon has a chance to close on the field to pick up the pieces late.
I also really like that last race in New York, as both horses seemed to be competitors and have done nothing but succeed thus far. Alpha and Gemologists are two of my top four picks.
Lastly, I think Hansen is an amazing talent and I really expect him to rate a little in the early going and be right there at the wire!
Another little tidbit of information from the horse’s mouth, which lies as much as the weather man, is that the Canadian Triple Crown Preps are on the way! Beware of Josie Carroll and her trio of candidates. This includes my early favorite to win the Queen’s Plate, Beeker Street, who runs on Saturday.
Good Luck to all on this most exciting weekend in the Sport of Kings!
…and that is the last word.